AVALANCHE (2-1-0) 4, BLUE JACKETS (1-2-1) 0
PEPSI CENTER | DENVER, CO
Aside from the first 10-15 minutes of this hockey game, the Blue Jackets were in pretty good shape and playing one of their better games of the young season.
But unfortunately, spurts don't count, and the early moments dearly cost Columbus tonight as it dropped its third straight game. The Avalanche opened the scoring just 51 seconds into the game on a goal by newcomer PA Parenteau, got another later in the first period from Matt Duchene, and had to withstand a feverish second period from the Blue Jackets along the way.
Through it all, their goaltender was solid; Semyon Varlamov had an answer for whatever Columbus threw at him and nullified any sense of momentum coming from the visitors' bench. He made 33 saves on the evening and made it look easy at times, frustrating the Blue Jackets during several power play chances and a late third-period push.
Parenteau's goal came off an innocent looking rush started by Duchene, who cut to the middle of the ice and sent a pass through three Blue Jackets sticks to a waiting Parenteau on left wing. Parenteau had no wasted motion and whipped a one-timer through the legs of Sergei Bobrovsky, who slid over but could not get set for the shot.
Duchene got speed into the offensive zone off the bench and drove hard to the net minutes later, cleaning up a big rebound for a 2-0 Avalanche lead. Milan Hejduk took the initial shot, but no Columbus defender picked up Duchene off the bench and he had a clean look at Bobrovsky. The Blue Jackets rebounded and finished the first period with a cleaner and better effort, but were unable to dent Varlamov.
John Mitchell and Duchene tallied third period goals for the Avalanche.
For the Blue Jackets, it's back home to Columbus late tonight and possibly practice tomorrow afternoon. They welcome the undefeated (4-0-0) Chicago Blackhawks to Nationwide Arena for a Saturday night showdown that will be the Blue Jackets' biggest test of the season.
The third Avalanche goal was a real tough one for the Blue Jackets. Going into the second period down 2-0, Columbus had to get back to its pressure game and make Varlamov work for some saves. They did a better job and used the power play to build some good vibes, but the Avalanche got the most important goal in the game.
-- The slow starts are really plaguing the Blue Jackets. They've given up the first goal in three of their four games, and two of those have come in the opening minute of hockey games. Has their response to those early goals been encouraging? Sure, but it doesn't mean much if you don't respond with a goal or two as well.
-- Bobrovsky shook off the first goal and played well for most of the game, but Columbus is still giving up too many shots and too many opportunities. They've talked about managing the puck better and not turning it over between the blue lines, and I think that's going to be a key in ending this three-game skid.
-- Columbus really missed Cam Atkinson's speed tonight. It was obvious.
-- The power play can move the puck and generate chances, and I think it's only a matter of time before it breaks out with a big game. For as many opportunities are coming out of the man advantage, at some point they're going to cash in. The one troubling thing is how many point shots miss the net; the forwards working in front of the net can't do much with pucks that miss by four to six feet.
vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com